Monday, December 31, 2012

My 2012 Pop Culture Favorites

With some inspiration from Stephen King, I asked myself this question -- Did I have a great year pop culturally speaking? I would have to say yes; and this years list includes only things I enjoyed in 2012 and that is fine. Here is a list of 14 things that made me squee with fandom. Please remember -- I am more interested in entertaining myself than in a OMG this is a great moment/statement. So let us get this ride started.

14: The fact that I have not read any of the "best" books of 2012 and I am content with that. I personally do not listen to critics. Sometimes they have an agenda, for example pushing a book that has some of the worst writing ever *cough50ShadesofGreycough*. So instead I went with my own gut feelings and enjoyed reading some paranormal smut (thanks to Felicia Day and her Vaginal Fantasy book club) to steampunk vampires to getting back into comic books (thanks to my friend Veronica as well as DC Comics producing some great stories.) Some great books I read this year were: The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame Smith, The Wonderland series by Raven Gregory, Tiger Eye by Judy Blume, Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead, Rot to Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, and Fables by Chris Roberson.

13: The television show Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23. It is a shame this show might get cancelled but the comedy writing is pure genius and the acting from Kristen Ritter and James Van Der Beek is pure gold.

12: The cancellation of the television show The Secret Circle. Yes I did say this last year: When I found out this series is based on another series written by L.J. Smith, I had my tread lightly shoes on as the CW Network took another series by L.J. Smith and made a televised version of The Twilight Saga. Yes I am talking about The Vampire Diaries. 'The Secret Circle' did not redefine my idea of what a supernatural drama can be or what a program about witches and warlocks can be. But the main pieces of a teen drama are laid out perfectly from the young women learning about their abilities to first loves/crushes to the bad girl troublemaker and the history of a small town. 'The Secret Circle' demonstrates an admirable confidence in its pace and destination, and it also has the excellent Britt Robertson ('Life Unexpected') giving the journey of Cassie Blake an emotional grounding that is likely to make the whole affair satisfying to genre fans and myself. but this show had no action whatsoever. It was all dialogue dialogue dialogue. If that was the case, I would have just read the books and left it alone. The show did start off well but come March 2012, it fell very flat. Now when will Vampire Diaries get the ax?

11: The television show Two Broke Girls. Again, great comedy writing by Whitney Cummings and the acting of Kat Dennings is golden.

10: The movie version of my favorite musical "Les Miserables". The singing in the movie is subpar at best but I am glad to see that this great book has now passed through three mediums.

9: Gangham Style. Yes it is a silly dance. Yes it is a one hit wonder. Yes PSY's 15 minutes of fame are now over. But to bring together a bunch of people at a convention or a murder mystery weekend in a completely random way and have some fun, isn't that what music and dancing is all about?

8: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Seline Kyle. We all know the story --The prologue alone is a heart-stopper, as masked brute Bane (Tom Hardy) escapes from a CIA-manned plane in midair. He soon plots to destroy Gotham City, leading Batman (Christian Bale) to emerge from an eight-year exile. Can the caped crusader trust a leather-clad cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) to help? Hathaway shines brightest playing a slinky femme fatale. She even induces chills strutting through a jail. But while she rivets and Hardy menaces, Bale broods. Ever the tortured soul, Batman as well as alter ego Bruce Wayne wallows in a pit of desolation -- emotionally and literally -- for long stretches, which doesn't always translate into primo entertainment. This one is not my favorite of the Batman movies but in terms of casting, Anne Hathaway blew Michelle Pfieffer out of the water with her portrayal of Catwoman/Selina Kyle.

7: That the television show Gossip Girl finally ended and I really did not care. Gossip Girl used to be one of my favorite shows. The fashion, the scandals, the relationship between Chuck/Blair/Serena/Dan but after a while it was just downright boring and the characters just did not grab you anymore. For five years it did well. Heck maybe the book Gossip Girl Psycho Killer will be a spin-off?

6: The television show Arrow. Originally I was annoyed that Justin Hartley was not cast as Arrow/Oliver Queen as he did a superb job as this character on Smallville but I got used to the abs known as Stephen Arnell. Also I am glad that the CW Network followed the canon of Arrow as best as they could plus the inclusion of Manhunter and Huntress? I say CW Network found its next superhero television hit.

5: The television show Once Upon a Time. My love of fairy tales came back with Zenescope Entertainment last year and this show continues to foster and make it grow.

4: Animated movies being better than live action movies, namely Brave, Wreck-it Ralph, Rise of the Guardians, and A Cat in Paris. It takes great storytelling and talent to pull off a children's movie or book. These movies did just that.

3: Getting back into the television show The Walking Dead. Season 2 SUCKED. Too much dialogue. Not enough action. Not paying attention/following the canon of the graphic novel. Season 3 changed all that. The show did not follow the graphic novel as precisely as I would like and have expressed in other forums but more action was in this season and more zombies. I like case you did not know that.

2: The book and movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It seems that the mash up of history and fiction works well for Seth Grahame Smith even though I did not like his book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But to take something as far fetched as Abraham Lincoln before becoming the 16th president of the United States that he was a vampire hunter and that slaves were food for vampires and that is one of the reasons he abolished slavery into a book and a movie, that takes some talent.

1: The movie The Avengers. This movie fulfilled every fanboys/fangirls dream. Thank you Joss Whedon! He should be the director of every Marvel superhero movie. Now hopefully he can bring Firefly and Dollhouse back.

So my fellow readers, what are your 2012 pop culture favorites? Why not answer the question in the first paragraph as I did? Remember -- what you enjoyed or were entertained by in 2012 does not have to be from 2012. This years blog for me just happened to be.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Haul 2012

As I have some Food Network playing on my television in the background, I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to write up my 2012 Christmas Haul. It has been a crazy festive time. Donated clothes to The Bowery Mission, wore an ugly Christmas sweater to work, drank copious amounts of peppermint hot chocolate, visited various holiday windows, and wore mistletoe. I think because I work in Kindergarten is the reason why this holiday season for me has been magical. I want to wish you all a festive day! For myself, today is all about my wonderful family, the food that my mom has prepared for us, and enjoying each others' company. I also cannot wait to share the joy! My wish for all of you that read my blog is that you are surrounded by loved ones and have a wonderful, relaxing day. Happiest holiday to you. With all of this being said, here is what I received this year. Please do not think I am rubbing it in -- I do know the true meaning of the season.

From Lorraine and Adam Jacobs:
Big Bang Theory fact or fiction trivia game, some makeup from Maybelline.

From Melissa Miller:
Clerks X DVD set.

From my students:
Laugh Often by Reese Witherspoon perfume.
A digital photo frame.
A purple scarf.
Some walnut tarts.
A Coach wristlet bag.
A tealight wall sconce.

From Christine Schneider:
Hello Kitty jeweled earbud headphones.

From Fran Gonsiewkski:
The book "Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version" by Philip Pullman

From my family
A Nintendo 3DS XL
A new Trouble board game
A purple velvet top
A Marvel Heroes activity and sticker book.
A Dammit Doll
A $40 LUSH gift certificate

From David Cohen
The Big Bang Theory complete 3rd and 5th season DVD sets
The King of Queens complete series DVD set (27 discs of pure Dougie goodness!)
Angry Birds Trilogy game for my Nintendo 3DS XL
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time game for my Nintendo 3DS XL
Hello Kitty Snow White on VHS
A Sheldon Cooper plush doll
A KidRobot Donut plush
A Big Bang Theory Soft Kitty snuggie blanket.
The book Math Doesn't Suck by Danica McKellar
The book 365: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life -- A Daily Creativity Journal

Tell me what you received in the comments below!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Are You A Cosette or an Eponine?

My favorite play, Les Miserables, as many of you are aware, is coming to a movie theatre near you on Christmas Day. Yes I know everyone is going ga-ga over Anne Hathaway playing Fantine but guess what? Her role at most is 10 minutes long. So I decided to look at the other two main characters in this play -- Cosette and Eponine -- and asked people on Facebook as well as now this blog which one would you be?

Let me first explain each character.

Cosette, in the realm of Les Miserables, is the daughter of Fantine and becomes the adopted child of Jean Valjean. After her mother leaves her to be looked after by the Thénardiers she becomes an exploited and victimised child. Taken away by Valjean, she grows up in a convent to become a radiant and innocent young beauty, who falls in love with student Marius Pontemercy. The protection and love of Cosette is the principal motivation for the actions of the main positive characters in the novel. Critics have often considered Cosette to be something of an empty figure, with no real independent character apart from the role she plays in the lives of others: as an innocent child-victim; daughter to be protected (for Fantine and Valjean); and object of adoration (for Marius). Stephanie Barbé Hammer writes that "Having served her function as a paternalizing figure, Cosette grows up into a silent, beautiful cipher".She has the same, but reverse, role as an object of jealousy and hatred for the villainous characters. As Kathryn M. Grossman remarks, she brings out the "hatred of humanity" that is typical of Hugo's villains. When Mme Thénardier sees that the grown-up Cosette has become a "well-off and radiant young woman, Mme Thénardier responds viscerally, "I'd like to kick open her belly"."Cosette is also portrayed as largely sexless. Mario Vargas Llosa says of her relationship to Marius, Now the love between these two is completely ethereal; the sex drive has been surgically removed so that their relationship can be purely one of feeling. Before the wedding the young people exchange one kiss, which is not repeated because, as the narrator says, neither Marius nor Cosette was aware of the existence of carnal desire.... The dialogue between these two virtuous lovers is as unreal as their amorous behavior. For this reason, the episodes where the two lovers talk to each other are the most artificial moments in the novel.
George Saintsbury calls her "merely a pretty and rather selfish little doll". Others consider Cosette to be the popular girl that everyone adores with no original thought of her own.

Eponine, on the other hand, is introduced as a spoiled and pampered child, but comes back into the story as a ragged and prematurely aged teenager who speaks in the Parisian street-argot of the time, but who retains vestiges of her former charm and innocence. Éponine and her younger sister Azelma are described as pretty, well-dressed, charming and a delight to see. They are pampered and spoiled by their parents, the Thénardiers. Following their parents' example, they tease and mistreat Cosette.
When Éponine becomes an adolescent, she and her family descend into poverty as a result of the bankruptcy of her parents' inn. They live in a small run-down apartment in Paris under the assumed name of "Jondrette". Éponine becomes a "pale, puny, meagre creature", with a hoarse voice like "a drunken galley slave's", having been "roughened by brandy and by liquors". She now wears dirty and tattered clothing, consisting solely of a chemise and a skirt. She has missing teeth, mangled hair, bony shoulders, heavy brooding drooping eyes, and a prematurely-aged face with only a trace of beauty lingering. She had "the look of a corrupted old woman; fifty years joined with fifteen; one of those beings who are both feeble and horrible at once, and who make those shudder whom they do not make weep". Éponine brings Marius and Cosette together, even though she herself is in love with him and envious of Cosette. The name Éponine derives from the ancient Gaulish heroine Epponina, wife of Julius Sabinus, who rebelled against the Roman empire. She "became the symbol of great patriotism and virtue" by protecting her husband for many years and by choosing to die with him when he was finally captured. The name was quite common in post-Revolutionary France among Republicans and Bonapartists.

So upon reading both of these descriptions -- which would you fall under? A Cosette or an Eponine?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My December Activity Guide

Besides Halloween, I will admit I still get excited for Christmas time. Things just seem to be more magical in the month of December. Lights and sparkle are everywhere. Last year, with inspiration from Gala Darling's December Activity Guide I wrote up my own and it made my month of December just that much more fun. Below you will find an outline of what I am doing this month to bring on the holiday cheer. Yes some of it might be cheesy but the point is to be FESTIVE! I do apologize for writing this on December 5th, but as you can tell...I have been busy!

December 1st: Gather Christmas music to make a mix for my iPod. Donate clothes to The Bowery Mission.

December 2nd: Make Star Wars glitter snowflakes.

December 3rd: Get holiday cards ready!

December 4th: Wear mistletoe headband at work and at the French Institute.

December 5th: Get some peppermint hot chocolate and enjoy Gingerbread Extravaganza at Le Parker Meridien.

December 6th: Get some chocolate coins and give them to people who make me smile.

December 7th: Wear Christmas ornament earrings at work and at the French Institute.

December 8th: Get some Ferrero Rocher chocolate or Godiva Chocolate for the NYC Vaginal Fantasy Book Club meet up.

December 9th: Go to Bryant Park, get some hot chocolate, and watch the ice skaters.

December 10th: Start writing out holiday cards.

December 11th: Watch something holiday related.

December 12th: Attend holiday party at The French Embassy.

December 13th: Start wrapping presents!

December 14th: Mail out holiday cards.

December 15th: Attend Unsilent Night in Washington Square Park at 7pm.

December 16th: Check out Christmas windows along 5th Avenue.

December 17th: Wear ugly Christmas sweater at work.

December 18th: Maybe take a picture with Santa Claus?

December 19th: Watch the Polar Express with my class.

December 20th: Get a manicure and make one nail sparkly.

December 21st: Go see How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Broadway with David.

December 22nd: Have Rankin Bass Christmas special marathon at home.

December 23rd: Visit nephews.

December 24th: Have dinner with David.

December 25th: Watch A Muppet Christmas Carol after opening presents.

I hope all of the readers of my blog have a wonderful holiday season!